A couple more thoughts, after some time and thinking and processing. Spoilers again, though not as huge as before.
As before, please go over to the original post on livejournal to comment, as it’s too easy for spoilers to turn up in comments places reading this post via rss feeds, especially facebook.
I don’t think I ever wanted Katniss to be a hero. What I did want her to do was to seize control of her voice and use it for her own purposes and use it for her own purposes. I was hoping they would be peaceful, the-killing-has-to-stop purposes, and I would have felt pretty betrayed if they’d been I-can-people-people-for-my-own-purposes ways, because that would have gone against everything the story set up.
But neither of these was the story Collins’ was working towards. I think it’s legitimate as a reader to want a different story–as readers, we all go into stories with biases and things that we enjoy in our stories, and I think that’s fine. As writers, we go in with biases as to how those things ought to be achieved, which can be more problematic, since we’re generally wrong, because the stories we’re reading aren’t our stories.
Anyway, as malinda_lo points out, while I wanted Katniss to be forced to seize her power as a public figure at least for a time (one of my biases–I enjoy stories where characters find their voices and their power), Katniss didn’t want that, and this has been consistent throughout. And what I think she did in the end was use the power she’d always been more comfortable with, since before the games began–the power to shoot an arrow true.
I did like the fact that she was realistically broken when it was over. I gather the darkness of this was startling to many readers, but I would have been startled and a bit skeptical if she wasn’t.
And here’s the other thing I realized: I was thinking, when I first read the book–as I think many readers thought–that Gale had changed over the course of the trilogy. I thought it was done well, believably, but then I remembered something …
At the start of The Hunger Games, Katniss mentions without regret that she tried to drown Buttercup. Toward the end, when they announce the games can only have one winner, she raises her bow without hesitation to shoot Peeta, and only sets it down after he sets his weapon down–but it doesn’t even occur to her that this is an option, at first.
Which makes me realize: Gale didn’t change, and move away from Katniss.
It’s Katniss who changed, and moved away from Gale.
And I find that kind of fascinating, and think it was well-done.
For all that I still think the romance is secondary, and not what the story is really about.
Oh, and one more thing. If I haven’t said? I’m totally transferring my loyalties to Team Buttercup. Just saying.